ZWT - 1892 - R1346 thru R1484 / R1354 (019) - January 15, 1892
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VOL. XIII. JANUARY 15, 1892. NO. 2.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
THINGS TO COME--AND THE PRESENT EUROPEAN SITUATION.
"The Spirit of truth...will guide you into all truth, ...and will show you things to come."--`John 16:13`.
While a part of the work of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Truth, is to guide the children of God into a clear apprehension of present duty and privilege and to give them such knowledge of things past as is needful, another of its offices is here stated to be that of showing them "things to come;" for the things to come, as well as things past and present, are of great importance to the Church. Such knowledge is not given merely to gratify curiosity, but for a definite and worthy purpose. It is wisely hidden from the merely curious and graciously revealed to the meek disciple who seeks to know the divine mind more perfectly, in order that he may the more fully conform to it.
It is only such truth seekers that are ever rewarded with the knowledge of the things to come and of the relationship of things past and present to those which are yet future--or, in other words, who ever come to see the beauty and harmony of divine truth as a system. The scoffing skeptic may diligently search the divine oracles, but he never finds the truth until he comes with reverence and humility as a meek disciple. He reads the wonders of divine revelation in a disjointed way, but cannot systematize or comprehend them. And even if God's children set them forth systematically, they are to him foolishness: he cannot receive them. Nor can any man retain this divine truth after he has found it, unless he retain the meek spirit in which he first received it, which also implies the right and diligent use of it.
This privilege of being shown things to come is granted in order, first, that we may not be overwhelmed with fear and discouragement at the seeming calamities of the future; secondly, that we may be co-workers together with God in harmony with his plan; and thirdly, in order that, seeing our future relationship to that plan, we may be fully prepared to enter into that new relationship and its duties and privileges.
The Scriptures give unmistakable testimony to those who have full faith in its records, that there is a great time of trouble ahead of the present comparative calm in the world--a trouble which will embroil all nations, overthrow all existing institutions, civil, social and religious, bring about a universal reign of anarchy and terror, and prostrate humanity in the very dust of despair, thus to make them ready to appreciate the power that will bring order out of that confusion and institute the new rule of righteousness. All this, the Scriptures show us, is to come to pass before the year 1915 (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chapter IV.)--that is, within the next twenty three years. And in view of these calamities the Lord's consecrated ones are told not to be alarmed, knowing what the grand outcome is to be.
All thinking men, whether they have faith in the Word of prophecy or not, see in the present attitude of mankind in general a growing tendency which threatens such a culmination,
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and they stand in fear and dread of it. As a consequence, the daily papers and the weeklies and monthlies, religious and secular, are continually discussing the prospects of war in Europe. They note the grievances and ambitions of the various nations and predict that war is inevitable at no distant day, that it may begin at any moment between some of the great powers, and that the prospects are that it will eventually involve them all. And they picture the awful calamity of such an event in view of the preparations made for it on the part of every nation. For several years past thoughtful observers have said, War cannot be kept off much longer: it must come soon--"next spring," "next summer," "next fall," etc.
But, notwithstanding these predictions and the good reasons which many see for making them, we do not share them. That is, we do not think that the prospects of a general European war are so marked as is commonly supposed. True, all Europe is like a great powder magazine which a single stray match might set off at any moment with a tremendous explosion. The various nations are armed to the teeth with the most destructive weapons that skill and ingenuity can invent, and there are national grievances and bickerings and hatred that must find a vent some time; and in consideration of these things the war cloud is always impending and ever darkening: but things may continue just so for many years, and we think they will.
These rumors of impending European wars, and the desire to judge whether observation would tend to confirm the divine revelation that the intensity of the great predicted trouble is yet nearly fifteen years future, formed no small part of our motive in visiting Europe during the past summer. With this object in view, and especially to be enabled to form some estimate of the social conditions of the people, which always have much to do with war probabilities, we pursued a very different course from that usual to European tourists.
We paid more attention to the towns, villages, cities, and especially to the poorer quarters, than to the lakes, cathedrals and art galleries. That you may know that our observations were not confined to any one corner of Europe, we will state that our journey carried us over more than four thousand miles of those portions of Europe expected by so many to be the battlefield of the world within a year, viz., 900 miles in Italy, 500 miles in Austria, 900 miles in Russia, and 1800 miles in Germany and France.
As for war, it is the talk of everybody in Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy and France. And all seemed agreed that if it did not break out this fall it would surely come by next spring. All seem ready for what they consider the inevitable. In Germany every man is a soldier; and wonderful soldiers they seem to be: every thing is done with military precision, the influence of the last twenty years of military methods extending into every department of life, business, etc. And, by the way, we experienced quite a change of view with reference to this matter of German military influence. We had heretofore considered as an almost unmixed evil the taking of hundreds of thousands of men from the tilling of the soil to spend four years each in the prime of life in military service; but now we see another side to the question. While the taking away of so much of the energy and muscle of a nation from the army of production into an army of consumption has been to the detriment of the nation financially for the present and to the greater bondage of the women of Germany who do most of the farming, it has been the greatest and most rapid educator of the men of that nation, and thus, under divine providence, an instrumentality for awakening the world and preparing for the great change of dispensation about to be inaugurated.
It has taken sleepy, thoughtless boys from the farm and has waked them up and educated them, often to far more practical benefit than four years of a college course would have done. As a result, one seldom meets a stupid German. And this same rule seems to hold in other countries in proportion to their strictness in military regulations. France, Austria and Italy follow the lead of Germany in military education, although far behind her. Italy, however, is awaking more rapidly than other nations. She has adopted the German military system in full, and the influence of this measure is already
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seen and felt. The German military system, it may be as new to others as it was to us to learn, is not alone a system of military drilling and physical disciplining, but also a schooling in the common branches of education. The men do not idle and dream away their time, except when on dress parade, but have regular hours for lessons under well educated instructors.
The effect of this general education may be imagined: the people are awake to an appreciation of their rights in a way and to a degree that no one would have suspected but a short time ago, when the German brain was generally credited with being rather slow and sluggish. No other nation on earth is so fully awake now.
This general awakening of the masses to a knowledge of their rights and their power, it might be argued, is one of the chiefest reasons for fearing the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, spoken of in the Scriptures as one of the results of the present increase of knowledge which will eventuate in anarchism, and prepare the way for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yes, this is true; but there are modifying circumstances, not generally considered, which will hinder this from having its full effect for some time to come. These modifications are as follows:--
First, the various states of Germany, once independent, are now not only united, but that union is cemented by a patriotic feeling which would sacrifice much rather than see the present empire, of which they all feel proud, destroyed. They would therefore bear much rather than see it disturbed.
Secondly, the Germans are a cautious people: they know that their present government is as good as the average, at least, and that they are surrounded by enemies, and they will be extremely slow to take chances on a change such as would be implied by the word Revolution.
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Thirdly, the present government and Emperor are very popular. The last ten years have witnessed for the masses a great social and financial elevation; laws have been enacted for the protection, and gradually for the betterment, of the poorer classes; and the present Emperor has very wisely addressed himself to various liberal reforms for their amelioration.
Our judgment therefore is that, so long as these conditions prevail, Germany can control the anarchistic or lawless elements within her borders, and is not likely to experience a social revolution for some years to come.
Germany's military preparation is so well known to the leading statesmen of Europe that no nation is likely to seek a quarrel with her; and her strain to keep up her present standard is so great that she wants no increase of it such as war would bring. Hence, with Austria and Italy in league and largely in the same plight and under her influence, Germany is today, humanly speaking, the arbiter of the world's peace.
Furthermore, we found that throughout Europe the social conditions are much better than we had expected to find them. Indeed, the houses occupied by the poorest class, except in southern Russia, compare favorably with the dwellings of a similar class in this country; and we know of localities here in Pittsburgh which are as dilapidated in appearance as any tenements observed on our journey--not even excepting the slums of London, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are the worst we saw in Europe, Russia alone excepted.
The people are generally intelligent, industrious, busy and comfortably clothed and fed-- far beyond our previous suppositions. We could not help wondering whence come some of the worst specimens of all races to this country as emigrants. Evidently the people of the United States are performing a service of inestimable value to the whole world in receiving their scum of ignorance and their dregs of degradation --both due more to evils of the past than to those of the present, and chiefly chargeable to priestcraft, superstition and ignorance fostered for centuries by that old "Mother of Harlots," which falsely claims to be the Church-system founded by our Lord and his apostles. The wonder often is that, with almost no assistance except the necessity and opportunity for industry, so many of these degraded members of the human family turn out as favorably as they do. What a field here at our door for mission workers,
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evangelists and philanthropists--better, if they but realized it, than any foreign mission field we saw. And these emigrants, let us remember, although generally poor, are not always either ignorant or vicious. Some of them are God's consecrated saints whom he is sending here to be blessed and sealed with present truth, which he gives us the privilege of ministering to them.
True, the food of the lower classes of Europe would not be satisfactory to the average mechanic and laborer in the United States, who, accustomed to larger pay and unaccustomed to frugality, spends probably six times as much on his stomach, eating not only finer and more nutritious foods, but also much more of them, and wasting often through improvidence as much as or more than he eats. However, the European laborer seems to enjoy himself as much as or more than his artisan brother here, and on the whole there is more of an appearance of contentment on the faces of all the people there-- the poor, the middle class and the rich--than on faces met in the streets here.
Intelligence without the grace of God to back it up brings discontent: only when it is backed by godliness, does it bring contentment, peace and joy. For this reason it is that the greater general intelligence and greater liberty of the people of the United States bring them, not more contentment, but less than their less favorably circumstanced European brothers. And this leads us to expect as stirring times in the United States as elsewhere when the "time of trouble" shall reach its height.
While the growing intelligence of Europeans is fast preparing them for the trouble and anarchy which God's Word predicts, it cannot reasonably be expected for some years yet. This is further in harmony with prophecy, though out of harmony with the expectations of many who look every day for a declaration of war in Europe, which they suppose will be the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Even should a war or revolution break out in Europe sooner than 1905, we could not consider it any portion of the severe trouble predicted. At most it could only be a forerunner to it, a mere "skirmish" as compared with what is to come. Indeed, in our judgment, based upon our observations, nothing could precipitate the great anarchistic trouble upon Europe, which the Scriptures predict, sooner than the date named, except a famine or some such unusual occurrence which would bring the people to feel that they have nothing to lose, but all to gain, by a general uprising.
While it was an agreeable surprise to us (in view of the contrary sensational accounts so often published) to find the situation in Europe as we here describe it--in harmony with what the Scriptures had led us to expect--yet so great is our confidence in the Word of God and in the light of present truth shining upon it, that we could not have doubted its testimony whatever had been the appearances. The date of the close of that "battle" is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874. Thus far it has been chiefly a battle of words and a time of organizing forces --capital, labor, armies and secret societies.
Never was there such a general time of banding together as at present. Not only are nations allying with each other for protection against other nations, but the various factions in every nation are organizing to protect their several interests. But as yet the various factions are merely studying the situation, testing the strength of their opponents, and seeking to perfect their plans and power for the future struggle, which many, without the Bible's testimony, seem to realize is the inevitable. Others still delude themselves, saying, Peace! Peace! when there is no possibility of peace until God's Kingdom comes into control, compelling the doing of his will on earth as it is now done in heaven.
This feature of the battle must continue with varying success to all concerned; the organization must be very thorough; and the final struggle will be comparatively short, terrible and decisive--resulting in general anarchy. In many respects the convictions of the world's great generals coincide with the predictions of God's Word. Then "Woe to the man or nation who starts the next war in Europe; for it will be a war of extermination." It will be abetted not only by national animosities, but
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also by social grievances, ambitions and animosities, and if not brought to an end by the establishment of God's Kingdom in the hands of his elect and then glorified Church, it would exterminate the race.--`Matt. 24:22`.
THE CHURCH'S SHARE IN THE BATTLE.
The Scriptures show also that the battle of the great day will begin with the Church of God, and that the overthrow of the great nominal church systems will precede the overthrow of the present civil powers; for the Lord is about to shake, not only the earth (the civil organization of society), but heaven (the ecclesiastical powers) also (`Heb. 12:26`), to the end that great "Babylon," falsely called Christendom --Christ's kingdom--may be completely destroyed. The great counterfeit kingdom of Christ, with all its allied civil and ecclesiastical powers, must go down as a great millstone into the sea, preparatory to the final establishment of the true Kingdom of Christ. Here, as in the world at large, the work of preparation is going on. The creeds, which for years have been reverenced and received without questioning, are now called up for inspection; and their inconsistencies and lack of Bible foundation is being discovered. As a consequence, the clergy, whose living and honors and worldly prospects in general are all bound up with the systems held together by these creeds, are in great trouble, and are looking about to see what can be done to strengthen the stakes and lengthen the cords of so-called Christianity. A general union of the various sects is suggested, with a simple creed formulated from the various points of agreement among them all and the ignoring of all other points of doctrine to which objection might be made by some.
This scheme meets with very general approval from all the sects, and the trend of their efforts is in this direction. This, too, is in harmony with prophecy, which shows, not only that the various sects of "Protestantism" will band together as one, but that there will also be a close affiliation with Roman Catholicism. These two ends of the ecclesiastical heaven will roll together as a scroll (`Isa. 34:4`), the two rolls, Protestantism and Romanism, coming closer and closer together as their power over the masses of the people decreases.
This work is already progressing very rapidly: church congresses for the consideration of various schemes of union are the order of the day. All the various branches of Presbyterianism are considering the feasibility of union; so also of Methodism, Congregationalism, and others. When each of these is consolidated, their respective denominations will have a greater prestige in the world; and when all Protestant sects are more firmly united under some one name, such as "The Evangelical Alliance," the prestige of Protestantism as a whole will be greatly augmented, though we think the term Protestantism will probably be dropped entirely as a concession to the church of Rome, to secure its favor. Such an organization is already in existence,
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and corresponds to what the Revelator calls "the Image of the Beast" (of Papacy); but this Image has yet to receive life and power to speak with authority to the civil powers, which authority will be used for the oppression and suppression of all that is opposed to them. (`Rev. 13:15`.) All this remains to be accomplished before the trouble upon the world can reach its crisis; for when men begin to realize more fully the united power of ecclesiasticism to oppress and fetter free thought and action, and when under the searching light of this day they shall have discovered the hollowness of its pretensions, we can readily see what the results will be-- viz., a sudden and terrible overthrow, as the Scriptures predict. And when its present power of superstitious reverence is broken, and its authority no longer binds men in subjection to the civil powers by the false doctrine of the divine right of kings, the fate of the civil powers will not long tremble in the balances, and the ever-darkening war cloud will burst in all its destructive fury. This culmination we do not expect, however, before about 1905, as the events predicted will require about that time, notwithstanding the rapid progress in these directions now possible.
It is written that judgment must begin at the house of God (`1 Pet. 4:17`), and here it has begun. Trials for heresy of many of the most prominent clerics of the various denominations
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have raised the questions, What is heresy? and what is orthodoxy? and before these questions are settled, every creed of Christendom will be brought before the bar of the public judgment.
"A THOUSAND SHALL FALL AT THY SIDE."
But while judgment has thus begun at the nominal house of God and has been in progress for some years past, it had a still earlier beginning among those consecrated saints who have been coming out of Babylon for the last fourteen years, and whom the Lord has been graciously leading into the knowledge of the deep things of his wisdom and grace. It is right that these prospective joint-heirs of God's kingdom should be fully tested before its establishment, before being permitted to enter into their reward; and consequently the Lord has permitted and will permit our great adversary to severely test and try all accounted worthy of the light of present truth. Since 1878, the time when this judgment was chronologically due to begin, the arts and devices of the adversary to overthrow the faith of the saints in the very fundamental doctrines have been constantly multiplying. New theories have been constructed, purporting to tell us of wonderful things to come, yet lacking the sure foundation of the Word of God. What has not appeared? Theosophy, Christian Science, Evolution in all its various and deceptive forms, Koreshanism and even a modernized Buddhism. All these deceptions have one common identity; for no matter how different they may be in other respects, they agree in denying that the Lord Jesus Christ by his death on Calvary paid the penalty for Adam's transgression, the guilt and penalty of which his race has inherited; and they all agree that instead of being justified by faith in that ransom-price paid for our release from sin and death, salvation is to be on some other score. These become "strong delusions," because they each unite with their errors certain elements of present truth. Thus Satan clothes himself in the garment of "light." These have been and are being brought with force against the consecrated and awakened children of God who have escaped from Babylon. Their various theories concerning things to come are presented in most seductive forms, and God permits them to practice and prosper for a time. Nay, He even makes use of these, sending the strong delusions to lead away from the light all such as, after coming to a knowledge of the Truth, do not love it so as to be willing to die for it.--`2 Thes. 2:10,11`.
Such as fall away under these delusions are thereby shown to be "condemned" as unworthy a share in the Kingdom of the elect-- none such will escape, for the deceptions will be so strong that "if it were possible they would deceive the very elect." But the deception of the elect, the faithful, will not be possible: God knoweth them that are his--who meekly abide under the wedding-garment of Christ's imputed righteousness and who are daily seeking to be the more conformed to the image of God's dear Son. All others shall be deceived and led astray from the truth, being unworthy of it--who have pleasure in error, and who have not that pleasure in the truth which gladly endures hardness and persecution for its sake. If one error does not overcome such, the persistent adversary will be permitted to bring another and another. He will surely find some seeming messenger of light to bear to such a deceptive doctrine, to ensnare such as reject the favor of God, expressed in the sacrifice for sins once for all.
And let us remember that a preparation for thus leaving the foundation and getting ready for the deception is laid beforehand, always. Instead of the truth leading such to humble service of the truth, it leads to pride or to carelessness and worldliness, or to that idle curiosity which, while willing and curious to know the present and the future, never leads to its service; or, neglecting the Word of truth, they fall into purely human reasoning and, getting a theory, start to twist the Scriptures to fit the theory; or imbibe some of the worldly ambitions to be thought well of, to be considered liberal-minded and very charitable to every thing, whether it be truth or error, and to every one who claims to be a teacher, whether he teach the true gospel or a base and deceptive counterfeit. All possessing such a self-seeking, compromising spirit are not worthy of the truth, and must go back into the outer darkness,
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whether we wish so or not. Some of the many deceptions and snares will overcome all such.
Or should we become listless and indifferent in the service of the truth and have consecrated time on our hands which we are willing to occupy in other ways than as we covenanted to do, the adversary will find some convenient method of occupying the time and some plausible excuse for so doing, wherewith to silence conscience; and to such a covenant-breaker will soon be sent a strong delusion, because he is not a lover (server) of the Truth.
"GREAT PEACE HAVE THEY WHO LOVE THY LAW, AND NOTHING SHALL STUMBLE THEM." --`PSA. 119:165`.--
There is but one sure, safe course for the saints to pursue if they would gain the prize of our high calling, and that is a course of fidelity and loyalty to the truth with a full determination to give no heed to seducing spirits who seek either to present to us another gospel, or to attract our attention away from the true gospel and from the one service of preaching that gospel of the Kingdom to which our lives have been consecrated, to the study of other themes and interests. Our Lord has opened up before us the chart of his wonderful plan of the ages and has shown us the written specifications, so that the things to come might be as surely known to us by faith as the things past and present are known by history and experience. He has thus taken us into his confidence as beloved sons and heirs of the kingdom to come. He showed us these things because at the time of the showing we were justified by faith in the precious blood of Christ, and consecrated to his service, and because we were meek and had faith in his Word and were loyal to him and desired to continue faithful. So we were reckoned of him as worthy of the truth and eligible to the high calling.
Having received all these favors of knowledge and grace, our use of them becomes the test of our loyalty and faithfulness. If we are ashamed to bear witness to them lest we offend those who advocate false doctrine, preferring their favor to God's favor; or if we hold the truth lightly, with an open ear for every doctrine opposed to the doctrine of Christ, and a God-speed for every advocate of error as well as of truth; or if we make no effort to withstand error, or to help the weak, or to spread abroad the knowledge of the right ways of the Lord, we are surely unfaithful to our trust and must lose it.
But ye, brethren, who are still walking in the light, be faithful to the end. The things to come reveal a glorious reward for your faithfulness. In this our part of the battle of the great day, a thousand will fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand (`Psa. 91:7`); but be not dismayed. Like Gideon's typical band, the victory is reserved to the faithful few. Glory not in numbers nor in worldly favor. The devices of error alone will prosper in that way. Glory only in faithfulness to the Master, and make haste to accomplish his appointed work for this time of sealing the elect, and bear the "good tidings of great joy unto all people," saint or sinner, wherever you can reach them.
"SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD."
And in attempting to teach others--for all who have the truth are commissioned to declare it to others--let us remember the Apostle's counsel: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (`1 Pet. 4:11`.) To teach what we claim to be divine truth, even in the humblest way, is to incur great responsibility; for in so doing we stand as God's representatives, and the Prophet `Isaiah (5:20,21`) says, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight."
Hear again the word of the Lord by the Prophet `Ezekiel (13:1-23`) saying, "Son of man...say unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord:
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Thus saith the Lord God, Woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing....They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them; and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye
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say, The Lord saith it? albeit I have not spoken."
"Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Because ye have spoken vanity and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of the people, neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord Eternal."
Let us, therefore, be zealous for the truth, in declaring the glorious things to come, according to God's revealed plan, but take heed that we be not of those "foolish prophets that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing." No man has any commission from God to be a teacher of divine truth who has not first learned what the truth is and become fully convinced of it so that he can say with confidence, Thus saith the Lord! and here are the chapter and verse, and thus and so it harmonizes with every other chapter and verse of the Word. Let us have confidence in the sure word of the Lord and with humble boldness declare it and with zeal and vigor as loyal soldiers of the cross defend it against every opposing device of error. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth [not of his own], that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever."--`1 Pet. 4:11`.
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--BY J. G. WHITTIER.--
All grim and soiled and brown with tan,
I saw a Strong One, in his wrath,
Smiting the godless shrines of man
Along his path.
The Church, beneath her trembling dome,
Essayed in vain her ghostly charm;
Wealth shook within his gilded home
With strange alarm.
Fraud from his secret chambers fled
Before the sunlight bursting in;
Sloth drew her pillow o'er her head
To drown the din.
"Spare," Art implored, "yon holy pile;
That grand, old, time-worn turret spare;"
Meek Reverence, kneeling in the aisle,
Cried out, "Forbear!"
Gray-bearded Use, who, deaf and blind,
Groped for his old accustomed stone,
Leaned on his staff, and wept to find
His seat o'erthrown.
Young Romance raised his dreamy eyes,
O'erhung with paly locks of gold--
"Why smite," he asked in sad surprise,
"The fair, the old?"
Yet louder rang the Strong One's stroke,
Yet nearer flashed his axe's gleam.
Shuddering and sick of heart I woke,
As from a dream.
I looked: aside the dust-cloud rolled--
The Waster seemed the Builder, too;
Up springing from the ruined Old
I saw the New.
'Twas but the ruin of the bad--
The wasting of the wrong and ill;
Whate'er of good the old time had
Was living still.
Calm grew the brows of him I feared;
The frown which awed me passed away,
And left behind a smile which cheered
Like breaking day.
Grown wiser for the lesson given,
I fear no longer, for I know
That where the share is deepest driven
The best fruits grow.
The outworn rite, the old abuse,
The pious fraud transparent grown,
The good held captive in the use
Of wrong alone,--
These wait their doom, from that great law
Which makes the past time serve to-day;
And fresher life the world shall draw
From their decay.
God works in all things: all obey
His first propulsion from the night.
Wake thou and watch!--the world is gray
With morning light.
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INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
OVERCOME WITH WINE.
LESSON III., `ISA. 28:1-13`, JANUARY 17.
Golden Text.--"Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place."--`Verse 17`.
This portion of Isaiah's prophecy is set forth in the International Lesson series as the temperance lesson for this quarter: and it certainly is a very strong one. But while we carefully observe this, let us not forget its prophetic character; for a prophecy must be received as a prophecy, and not merely as a collection of moral or religious precepts to be indiscriminately applied.
Our first observation in studying any prophecy should be as to the time when its predictions will be realized, and when, therefore, its warnings should be specially heeded. The division into chapters and verses, it will be remembered, is merely an arbitrary arrangement in modern times for the sake of convenience. Glancing back to `chapters 26:21` and `27:1` we see that a definite time is marked--"In that day." What day? In the day when "the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity" (`26:21`); the same day which Daniel foretold, saying, "And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time" (`Dan. 12:1`); the day of which Malachi said, "Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble" (`Mal. 4:1`); and again, "Who may abide the day of his [Christ's] coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap." (`Mal. 3:2`.) Ah! yes: it is the harvest time of the Gospel age, the day of reckoning, the very day in which we are now living--from 1874 to 1914--the latter part of which is to witness the great conflict foretold, and the preparations for which are now going on in the world. The wheat and tares of nominal Christendom are now being separated, and the latter bound in bundles--tied up tightly in great organizations--preparatory to the symbolic burning or trouble of the closing days of this age and the ushering in of the Millennial day.
Among the things mentioned concerning that day, the Prophet (`28:1`) foretells woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim. As the language is symbolic, we next inquire, Who is referred to under the name Ephraim? It is the very same class mentioned in our last lesson (`Isa. 26:5`) as the "lofty city" that the Lord is going to bring down to the dust--that great city, "Babylon" (`Rev. 16:19`; `17:5`; `18:2`), which now proudly calls itself Christendom (Christ's kingdom). The Prophet in succeeding chapters applies to it several symbolic names. The name Ephraim here used signifies fruitful, and is symbolically applied to the great nominal Christian system, both Papal and Protestant. It has a great show of fruitfulness in number, influence, power and wealth; but this is not the kind of fruitfulness for which the Lord is looking. This he calls "hasty fruit" --sour and bitter, like that forced before the summer.--`Verse 4`.
With this introduction, let us briefly view the lessons of this chapter:--
`Verse 1`. "Woe to the crown of pride"--the worldly prosperity--the boast of the great Nominal Church. Her glory in numbers and wealth and power is a fading flower. Who can not see it, in this day when her position is disputed and her doctrines and authority are boldly called in question? Her "beauty" crown the "fat valleys" of worldly-mindedness where many are overcome, intoxicated, with the spirit of the world. The trouble or "woe" on these systems is beginning to be experienced, and will be continually increasing.
`Verse 2`. The "mighty and strong one" is the Lord, whose instrument is the Truth, which, "like a flood of mighty waters" (Water is a symbol of truth), is destined to cover the earth --"The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea." It will come as "a tempest of hail and a destroying storm." Hail represents truth put in a hard, forcible way; and "a tempest of hail" indicates the destructive and forceful method which the Lord will adopt. Thus the Truth will batter down the old and long-established errors upon which the great systems of "Christendom" have been built. The Lord has refrained from the separating of the wheat and tares until this time of harvest; now he will separate them, glorify the "wheat," and cast the "tares" into the fiery furnace of a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation (`Matt. 13:30`). Thus he will do "his work, his strange work,
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and bring to pass his act, his strange act" (`verse 21`)--viz.: the bringing down to the earth and laying low of great Babylon-- Christendom.
`Verse 3`. "The crown of pride"--the wealth and fame and prestige of these great systems, together with all who have been intoxicated with their worldly spirit shall be "trodden under foot"--humbled in the dust. Compare `Rev. 18:2,5`.
`Verse 4`. In rejecting the Lord's plans and adopting plans of their own, the various nominal churches have had great fruitfulness in numbers, etc., but the fruit is not good. It is "hasty," immature fruit. Thousands of such have been brought into the various nominal churches whose hearts remained unchanged, and hypocrites of every shade also find a home there, until, in the language of Inspiration, "Babylon has become the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."--`Rev. 18:2`.
`Verse 5`. Unto "the residue of his people" --those who are truly consecrated to the Lord and who follow his leading, who love and obey his truth--the Lord will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty. They are his betrothed and will shortly be exalted as his bride and joint-heir. To all such who are still in Babylon as wheat in the midst of tares he says, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues."--`Rev. 18:4`.
`Verse 6`. The Lord will give judgment, discretion, to those who endeavor to discern between truth and error, and who bring all things both new and old to the test of his Word. His strength will also be given to those who battle against the forces of error--who endeavor to "turn the battle at the gate." The gates of ancient cities were generally important places in the defence of the city and there courts of justice, public assemblies, etc., were often held. To turn the battle at the gate would, therefore, in symbolic language, signify public effort to withstand error with the truth, even in the strongholds of error. For this God will and now does give strength to his people, so that one may "chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight."
`Verse 7`. "But they also"--to whom the people look as leaders and teachers, viz.: the clergy--"have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way: the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink, they err in vision, they stumble in judgment." Here, in harmony with the symbolic character of the prophecy, we see that the wine and strong drink are also symbols--symbols, too, of something bad, something deceptive in its character and
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intoxicating in its effects--hence, indirectly, a rebuke to the evil thing itself. But as a symbol what does it mean? It is a forceful symbol of the spirit of the world, the love of the world and of the world's approval and emoluments, with which spirit all the systems of Christendom are intoxicated, especially the "priests and the prophets"--the leaders and teachers in Babylon. Therefore do they "err in vision and stumble in judgment." It is for this very reason that they cannot understand this prophecy which we are now considering. They are so infatuated with the greatness of their antichristian systems that in their pride they cannot see its application to them; and in their blindness they set forth these verses as a lesson on temperance in the use of intoxicating beverages, taking no notice of the time of its application --"In that day" (`verse 5`)--nor to its symbolic and prophetic character. Truly, said the Prophet, "they err in vision, they stumble in judgment."
`Verse 8`. "For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean." "Here is a forceful statement of the condition of affairs of which we are all witnesses today. The Calvinistic tables are all so polluted with the rejected dogmas swallowed in the past, that people are now turning away in disgust from the tables around which they formerly gathered so complacently. The Arminian tables are almost equally polluted, so that Methodists are beginning to discuss the propriety of absolving the laity from all doctrinal tests, lest they lose a large proportion of their membership. And truly, look where we will, through all the sects of "Christendom," as the Prophet says, "There is no place clean"--no table fit for God's intelligent children. But God is providing "meat in due season" now for all who hunger and thirst after righteousness, outside of Babylon. "My table thou hast furnished in the presence of mine enemies," the true Church may still sing.
`Verse 9`. Here the Prophet raises the question, "Whom shall he [the Lord] teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?" In other words, Who among all this people, who are in this miserable plight, are worthy of the truth which is now due to the faithful? Will he give it to the drunken? or will he give it to those who are satisfied with their polluted tables? or to those who have no hungering and thirsting after truth prompting them to seek it? No, the Prophet says he will give it "to them that are weaned from the milk
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and drawn from the breasts"--to them who are reaching out after more knowledge of God and of his gracious plans. Blessed are the hungry who desire more and stronger spiritual food that they may grow thereby, for they shall be filled. (`Matt. 5:6`.) Milk is for babes, but strong meat is for those who have passed the infant stage and who are no longer babes in Christ.--`Heb. 5:14`.
`Verses 10-12` show that it will take a great many more lessons to help those in Babylon who are not yet ready to be helped; for he will not longer speak to them through the old tongues--the intoxicated "priests and prophets" to whom they still look for leading. But "by men of strange lips and with another tongue will he speak to his people." (R.V.) He will raise up other teachers--teachers not ordained of men, but of God--whom therefore they will not incline to recognize or heed; because they will not "prophesy smooth things," saying, Peace! peace! when there is no peace." And when these (`verse 12`) point out the true rest and refreshment of divine truth, they will not hear.
`Verse 13` is a solemn warning of the responsibility of such; showing that when they are ensnared in the traps of error, and thereby fail of the reward of faithfulness to the truth, it will have been due to their own improper condition of heart, and not to any lack of faithfulness on God's part.
In view of this solemn averment of responsibility on the part of those who hear but will not heed the truth, and who are too much intoxicated with the spirit of the world to discern it, how solemn are the words of rebuke that follow. This whole prophecy is one which every child of God who desires to know the truth and to escape the snares of error would do well to study with reverent humility and lay its solemn warnings and precepts well to heart.
But let all such first make sure that they are not in the least intoxicated with the wine or strong drink of Babylon, but that in simplicity of heart they desire the strong meat of truth, that they may grow thereby.
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HEZEKIAH'S PRAYER AND DELIVERANCE.
LESSON IV., `ISA. 37:14-21,33-38`, JANUARY 24.
Golden Text.--"The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth them."--`Psa. 34:17`.
This lesson is a scrap of history incidentally interwoven with Isaiah's prophecy. In reading it we should bear in mind that Israel was God's peculiar people and under his special protection and care, as it is written, "Ye are the children of the Lord your God....Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." "The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure." --`Deut. 14:2`; `Psa. 135:4`.
We should remember also that God himself was King of Israel, and that Hezekiah and others were his representatives on the throne, as it is written, "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king, instead of David his father." (`1 Chron. 29:23`.) While God thus ruled in Israel he permitted all the other nations to pursue their own course and follow their own inclinations except when they interfered with his plans for the government of Israel. When Israel became refractory and disobedient he often chastised them by permitting the other nations to annoy them and take them into captivity, but as long as they were obedient to the Lord they had prosperity.
All the promises made to Israel were promises of temporal good; no mention was made to them of the heavenly hopes set before the Gospel Church. These are peculiar to the gospel dispensation which had its beginning in our Lord's ministry and at Pentecost, and which closes with the dawn of the Millennium. The promises made to Israel were that they should have the land of Canaan "for an everlasting possession" (`Gen. 17:8`), and that, if they were willing and obedient subjects of God, their King, they should "eat the good of the land."-- `Isa. 1:19`.
But they were also told that if they were disobedient and walked contrary to the Lord, he also would walk contrary to them, and bring upon them distress and trouble. See `Lev. 26`, and observe in their history how God dealt with them as he said he would do. So long as Israel was under the divine rulership and care no evil could befall them except by divine permission for their correction and discipline, as it is written, "Shall there be evil in a city [a city of Israel], and the Lord hath not done it [or brought it upon them]?" And they were generally forewarned of such impending evils or calamities and given the alternative of repentance; for, said the Prophet (`Amos 3:7`), "Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
In reading Hezekiah's prayer for the deliverance of Israel from the Assyrian invaders, and the Lord's answer to that prayer in the destruction of the enemy, we are not to consider that a precedent is thus established, whereby other nations may claim God's help in overcoming their national enemies; for none of the other nations has ever been recognized as God's
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kingdom, nor has Israel, since the rejection of the Messiah. Since that time, God has had no kingdom set up in the world, but has permitted the Gentile kingdoms to have full sway until the time appointed for the establishment of his own glorious kingdom in the hands of his Anointed--our Lord Jesus and his Church. And when that time arrives, which now is not far distant, all these Gentile kingdoms must be destroyed.
The only sense in which the kingdom of God now is or has been in the world since the beginning of the Gospel age is in its embryo or incipient stage, and it is composed of the prospective heirs of that kingdom. In this sense all through the Gospel age the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and the violent have taken it by force (`Matt. 11:12`). Suffering and ignominy, and often martyrdom, have been its lot; but the glory is to follow in due time.
This scrap of Israel's history which the Prophet here narrates was given, not merely to point a moral lesson, but to show, in connection with other similar items recorded by other prophets and historians, how God actually did deal with them as a people according to his promises and his threatenings. However, we may take all the good suggestions we can draw out of the narrative. Thus, for instance, we may admire Hezekiah's sterling character, particularly in view of the wicked example of his father who reigned before him; for instead of heedlessly following in his unrighteous ways, as most sons of unrighteous parents incline to do, Hezekiah resolved to do differently, and became a great reformer in his day; and the narrative of this lesson shows his reliance upon God's promises in time of trouble, and how God honored his prayer and fulfilled those promises in the deliverance of Israel from a great impending calamity.
The `golden text`--"The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth them," is applicable to all who fulfill its conditions.
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WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT.
LESSON V., JANUARY 31, `ISAIAH 53:1-12`.
Golden Text--"The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."--`Isa. 53:6`.
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In the midst of his vivid and striking prophecies of the Millennial glory of Christ's Kingdom in the earth, and of the overthrow and destruction of Great Babylon preparatory thereto, the Prophet here predicts, and particularly describes, that one great event which was to be the foundation upon which the whole superstructure of the plan of salvation and the hope of future glory should rest.
That one central or pivotal truth, is briefly expressed in our `golden text`--"The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." The one referred to we readily recognize by the prophetic description to be the Christ of the New Testament history. The prophecy and the fulfilment both stand out prominently on the pages of divinely-attested truth. But notwithstanding the importance of this great truth to the whole human race, the Prophet, speaking from a then future standpoint when the fulfilment of his prophecy had been accomplished, inquires, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"-- thus calling attention to that which we now realize, viz. that only a very few understand or appreciate the good tidings. And when we remember that faith in this message is necessary to the receiving of its benefits, it is disheartening, unless we know some of the further steps of the divine plan, to realize how few believe it. Daily there are thousands and tens of thousands, in both civilized and uncivilized lands, going down into the grave without faith, and without the least ray of hope from this precious truth. In view of these things, many seem to think that God's arm is shortened that it cannot save--except the very few who now believe.
But let such observe the second inquiry of the Prophet--"And to whom is the arm of Jehovah revealed?"--intimating that his arm, his power, has not yet been revealed to many that they might believe. But his arm, his power, will be fully revealed to all in due time in the final accomplishment of his plan. But that plan is one which requires ages for its complete accomplishment; hence the "arm of Jehovah" is revealed now, to those only who can receive the revelation of it by faith. The household of faith may therefore comfort themselves with this blessed assurance, that "God our Savior will have all men to be saved [out of the Adamic death], and to come to the knowledge of the truth; for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (`1 Tim. 2:3-6`.) To this end, a resurrection, "both of the just and the unjust," is promised: "The hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth." (`Acts 24:15`; `John 5:28,29`.) They will come forth in due time to have the truth fully testified to them, and to profit by it; and if they are obedient to it, they may go on unto perfection and live forever.
`Verses 2 and 3` describe "the man Christ Jesus," saying, "For he shall grow up before
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him [Jehovah] as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." All humanity under the condemnation of death was reckoned dead; and this one alone, like a new, fresh, living root out of the barren soil, grew up from infancy to manhood. But, in the estimation of men, he had no desirable form nor comeliness, nor beauty. His glorious perfection made manifest their deformity; and when he declared himself the Messiah and the King of the Jews, they had no desire for such a king. They were looking for a king like Alexander the Great, or like the Caesars; one who, with military skill and carnal weapons, should deliver them from the Roman yoke. They had no faith therefore in the meek Nazarene and his claims: they saw no beauty such as they were looking for in him. Consequently, he was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised, and men esteemed him not. And because men lightly esteemed and even despised him, "he hid as it were his face from them." [See margin. Because of their unbelief and hardness of heart, they therefore lost the benefit of his wisdom and teaching and many of his mighty works.--`Rom. 11:20`; `Matt. 13:58`.]
`Verse 4`. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted." As a perfect man, apart from the condemned race, and having no sin nor any cause of death in him, he voluntarily bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. Though he was rich before he became a man, and though as a man he had all the talent necessary to secure earthly riches, he voluntarily became poor and remained poor --so poor that often he had not where to lay his head. Thus he was able to sympathize with the poor of this world. And though as a perfect man, without sin, and consequently without the consequences of sin, he had perfect health, yet during the three years of his ministry he was continually imparting his vitality-- vigor, strength--to the suffering ones around him, thus impoverishing himself and so being "touched with a feeling of our infirmities," as it is written: "And the whole multitude sought to touch him, for there went virtue [vitality, strength] out of him, and healed them all;" "And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me, for I perceive that virtue [vitality, strength] is gone out of me." He felt the consequent weakness.--See `Luke 6:17-19`; `8:46-48`; `Mark 5:30-34`.
But while he thus, from exhausting labor and daily sacrifice for the good of others, endured weakness and weariness, so that at the end of the three and a half years of his ministry he was unable to bear his cross to the place of execution (`Luke 23:26`), men did not recognize the real cause of his physical weakness, but esteemed him stricken and smitten of God, as though he were a sinner like other men, and therefore, like them, subject to physical decline and death. But no, "In him was no sin:" he was generously and sympathetically bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows, while we ungratefully "esteemed him smitten of God and afflicted."
`Verse 5`. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." The dreadful tragedy of Calvary was not for his own sins, but for ours, as also saith the Prophet `Daniel (9:26`)--"Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself." "He suffered for sins," says Peter, "being put to death in the flesh, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (`1 Pet. 3:18`.) And Isaiah continues--`verses 6 and 7` --"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord [Jehovah] hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." And meekly and willingly he bore our burden; for, though "he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." See `Mark 15:3-5`.
`Verse 8`. "Through oppression and through judicial punishment [by means of false accusations which secured a legal condemnation to death] was he taken away; but his generation --who shall declare it? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken."
"His generation." This expression may be understood in three ways truthfully, and hence properly. (1) Who of his day and generation would admit the facts?--only the very few who became his despised followers. (2) How few knew of his generation, of his divine lineage! how few believed or confessed that the despised, rejected and crucified one was the only begotten son of God, made flesh for the very purpose of thus giving himself a ransom for all! (3) But "his generation" is specially to be understood (see `following verses`) in the sense of his posterity. Who would suspect that he who was thus cut off childless would ever become "The Everlasting Father?" (`Isa. 9:6`.) Yet "he shall see his seed" (`verse 10`) in Jehovah's appointed season. At his second advent, times of restitution shall come (`Acts 3:19-21`), when, as the great Life-giver [father], he will give life and health and strength to all of Adam's
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race who will accept them under the conditions of the New Covenant. It is a gross mistake, however, to suppose that the Gospel Church is the "seed" of Christ, whether reckoned by the millions (including the black, the speckled and the ring-streaked, a worldly class, as Bishop Foster describes them) or merely the "little flock" of consecrated and faithful believers. The Church is never spoken of as the children of our Lord Jesus, either in symbol, or in type, or in literal statement. The Church "he is not ashamed to call his brethren." The bride, the Lamb's wife and joint-heir, are the honorable titles given to the little flock whom the Father, Jehovah, draws to Christ, and gives to him, as it is written, "Behold I and the children [of God] which God hath given me." (`Heb. 2:11-13`.) Our Lord Jesus enunciated this clearly when he said, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." (`John 20:17`.) But after the "little flock" of the Gospel age has become the Bride and joint-heir of the Lamb, the glorified body of Christ, the new dispensation, the Millennium, will open, when the glorified Christ--Head and body--will become the Life-giver or Father to the world in general, restoring to them the human life and privileges lost in Adam but redeemed for them by the sacrifice of Christ's human life. That will be the time in which the glorified Christ in kingdom power will draw ALL MEN toward righteousness and life, even as the Father now draws the elect truth-hungry ones to Christ--as it is written, "No man can come unto me unless the Father which sent me draw him. And he [thus drawn by the truth--by the promises of God] that cometh unto me [Christ] I will in no wise reject." But as many who are now drawn or called to Christ by the Father fail to profit by the drawings of the truth, and hence to make their calling and election sure, so during the Millennial age, when Christ shall bring the whole world to a knowledge of the truth and
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thus influence or draw ALL MEN toward righteousness, it will still be for each to decide the matter for himself. Such as accept the gracious offer will receive everlasting life from Christ and his glorified Church, and will thus become the children of the Christ, and the Christ becomes to such the Everlasting Father. Thus He shall see his seed [his children] and shall prolong their days everlastingly; and thus the pleasure [will, plan] of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand.--`Verse 10`.
`Verse 9`. "And they made his grave with the condemned [Heb. rasha, condemned or guilty--i.e., with the race of condemned sinners], and with the rich in his death [in the tomb of the rich man--Joseph of Arimathea-- `Matt. 27:57-60`], although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth."
`Verse 10` declares that all this violence that befell our blessed Lord and Redeemer was in exact accordance with the plan of Jehovah, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to redeem their life from destruction by the sacrifice of his own--"Although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth [and therefore no cause of death in him], yet it pleased the Lord [Jehovah] to bruise him: He hath put him to grief."
`Verse 11`. "He shall see [the fruits] of the travail of his soul [in the grand restitution of the redeemed race] and shall be satisfied." And here the Prophet interjects the statement that it was our Lord's knowledge of the divine plan or purpose to redeem and then restore the fallen race that enabled him to thus carry out that purpose in the sacrifice of himself, thus justifying many by bearing the penalty due for their iniquities--"By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."
`Verse 12` points to the great personal exaltation of our blessed Lord Jesus, because of his obedience to the Father's will, even unto death.--"Therefore will I [Jehovah] divide him a portion with the Great [rab--the Lord, the Chief, the Master of the whole universe, Jehovah himself]." Because of his faithfulness he was highly exalted, made a partaker of the divine nature, and was associated with his Father in his throne. (See `Phil. 2:9`; `Rev. 3:21`.) And not only so, but he has been permitted of God to carry out another feature of his plan in the selection, training and final exaltation of a faithful few from among the redeemed race to share his great reward--to become likewise "partakers of the divine nature" (`2 Pet. 1:4`) and "joint-heirs" of his kingdom and glory (`Rom. 8:17`; `Luke 12:32`)--Thus "he shall divide the spoil [the great reward] with the strong"--the overcomers. In accordance with this privilege granted him by the Father he left the gracious promise on record for us--"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne."--`Rev. 3:21`.
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SPECIAL ITEMS FOR REGULAR READERS.
DO YOU DESIRE THE FURTHER SEMI-MONTHLY VISITS OF ZION'S WATCH TOWER?
We send out sample copies of this issue of the TOWER to many who were on our Lists last year, but from whom we have heard no report as to this year. Let us know whether or not you desire its visits to continue. We shall, of course, be glad not only to have all the old names continued but to have large numbers added--your friends and neighbors--whoever you may think would be benefited by the "meat in due season" which as the Master's servants we set forth.
If you do not wish to subscribe for your friends, and think that a sample copy might benefit them, send us their addresses at once.
The mark on the address tag of your paper shows the date to which you have paid your subscription. If you have paid for this year it should read Dec. 92. The price is not high: one dollar a year, or less than two cents a week. To those who through accident or misfortune cannot pay, yet desire it enough to say so, it will be sent free. It is not, therefore, a question of whether you can afford it, but rather whether you can afford to do without it.
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WHAT THE "GOOD HOPES" CAN DO.
We use this name, "Good Hopes," in referring to the conditional promises suggested in the November '91 TOWER.
We have reckoned up the number of these "Hopes" and are surprised at two things: first at their fewness and second that the general average runs so high as it does. We do not mention this matter by way of chiding those who have not responded, but by way of telling those who did send them what their "Hopes" are doing in the work of spreading the Truths we all love to serve. While we know and teach that there is no law but Love for the new creatures in Christ, yet we believe that the great Apostle's instruction is as sound upon this subject (`1 Cor. 12:2`) as upon others; and while we believe that every one who has the spirit thus to serve the Master, even if it be but with a "poor widow's two mites," will be blessed according to the Master's promise, yet it is not for us to insist or to urge the subject upon any. Let each act according to his own judgment of the Lord's mind and the willingness of his own heart upon this as upon every other subject. We have mentioned the subject merely by way of reminding you and indicating how such a course might be used to the Master's glory. Each is steward of his own time, money and influence consecrated to him who bought us with his own precious blood.
But as to what the "Hopes" are doing: We received in all ninety-eight, which promised, if possible, a total of $1,946.08--the amounts ranging all the way from five cents to five dollars per week.
We have concluded that on the strength of this we can safely arrange to send out one hundred thousand sample copies of the WATCH TOWER; for if some shall find themselves unable to do all that their "Good Hopes" suggested, others will probably be able to do more, and have declared that they will do more if possible.
It occurs to us that the present issue and the previous issue are specially suitable for new readers; so instead of waiting for the payments all to come in, we will begin at once. Who knows how many out of this one hundred thousand may find honest, truth-hungry hearts, and bring light and joy and peace--and a newness of Christian life. We cannot, of course, expect that many will bring forth such a fruitage; but if only one in a thousand, it means a hundred of God's dear children set free from bondage of ignorance into the light of present truth.
Some of us know how to sympathize with the "lost sheep" who, in all the different churches, are seeking the true Shepherd and the green pastures and quiet waters of refreshment to which he now desires to lead all who are really his sheep. We doubt not that every one of those who have sent in "Good Hopes" was once among those grossly blinded by human tradition. They feel thankful to God for the truth, and to their fellows who as God's servants put the truth--the food--before them in the shape of TOWERS, TRACTS and DAWNS, etc. Five dollars that will go into this 100,000 sample copies came from the sister of an attorney at law who was turned from Infidelity to the service of Christ, by the reading of MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I. The sister sent this $5.00 as a thank-offering to the Lord and to help forward a cause which had the power of truth sufficient to convert an unbelieving lawyer. The next day brought a letter and a donation of ten dollars for the same purposes from the lawyer himself.
Let us thank God for the light, dearly beloved, and let us do all that we can in every way possible, that seems to us a good way, to obey our Master's words: "Let your light so shine that men, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven."
FURTHER READING MATTER FOR YOUR INTERESTED FRIENDS.
WHILE A SAMPLE COPY OF THE WATCH TOWER OR ONE OF OUR FREE OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS MAY START A HUNGRY SOUL TO INVESTIGATING, THEY CAN DO LITTLE MORE. TELL SUCH THAT THE HELP THEY NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE IN THE LIGHT OF PRESENT TRUTH IS MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I. --"THE PLAN OF THE AGES"--OVER 160,000 ALREADY PUBLISHED --350 PAGES. TELL THEM OF THE BENEFIT IT HAS BEEN TO YOUR OWN HEART AND HEAD, AND HOW YOU VALUE IT, AND THAT IT IS ONLY 25 CENTS POST PAID--OR LOANED TO THOSE TOO POOR TO BUY--AND URGE THEM TO SEND FOR IT AT ONCE.